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Navigating the Interview Process: A Recruiter's Guide

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David Hogan is a virtual chief of staff who also provides operational support to RevOps Co-op through his business, Throne Consulting. We asked him to stop by the blog again and share some tips and tricks for navigating the second hurdle in the interview process: nailing the screening call.

In recent years, the job market experienced a significant shift. At first it was a job seeker's market, where demand was high and supply was low. Almost everyone was hiring. However, as the market evolves, expectations and dynamics have changed. 

In this post, we'll explore the world of job interviews from the perspective of a recruiter. We'll explain what recruiters are looking for, why interviews should be seen as a two-way street, and how you can best prepare to secure your dream job.

As someone who has conducted hundreds of interviews myself, I can assure you I’ve seen a thing or two. I’ve interviewed people and immediately left the conversation saying, “Stop everything! We’ve found the right fit for this role.” I’ve also left interviews deflated and, honestly, confused by how ill-prepared the candidate was for it.

What Do Recruiters Look For?

Recruiters play a crucial role in shaping a company's workforce. They are tasked with finding the right individuals who not only possess the necessary skills but also fit seamlessly into the company culture. Here's a glimpse into what recruiters consider when evaluating candidates:

Culture Add: Rather than seeking a mere "fit," recruiters are keen on candidates who can enrich the company's culture by introducing fresh perspectives and diverse viewpoints. They look for individuals who can not only work effectively with potential colleagues but also contribute to the company's values and commitment to Diversity and Inclusion.

DEIBA Commitment: In today's progressive work landscape, recruiters are attuned to the importance of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, & Accessibility (DEIBA). They actively seek candidates who not only possess the skills and experience required for the job but also exhibit a deep commitment to fostering an inclusive and equitable workplace. Recruiters look for individuals who can bring diverse perspectives and backgrounds to the table, contributing to an environment where everyone feels they belong and have equal opportunities to thrive. Candidates who understand the value of accessibility and are dedicated to breaking down barriers for all team members are highly regarded. Embracing DEIBA principles is not just a buzzword; it's a fundamental aspect of modern workforce dynamics that recruiters keenly assess in potential hires.

Skills and Experience: While qualifications matter, recruiters want to ensure that candidates have practical experience to back up their claims. They are likely to ask questions to gauge the depth of your knowledge, problem-solving skills, and work with peers to successfully achieve a goal.

Problem Solving and Adaptability: Recruiters seek candidates who can navigate challenges and adapt to new situations. Problem-solving is a critical skill, and demonstrating your ability to overcome obstacles can set you apart.

Preparedness: Being well-prepared for an interview reflects your genuine interest in the job. Recruiters appreciate candidates who have researched the company, its values, and its mission. This shows that you're invested in the position and the organization.

Here are some tips that you can follow to better prepare for interviews:

1. Thoroughly Research the Company: Researching the company is crucial. Dive deep into their website and social media, read recent news articles about them, understand their products or services, and familiarize yourself with their mission and values. Being well-versed in the company's background demonstrates your genuine interest and helps you tailor your responses to align with their culture.

2. Understand the Job Description: Analyze the job description and requirements carefully. Identify the key skills and qualifications they're looking for and be ready to discuss how your background and experience make you a strong fit. Use specific examples from your past to showcase your suitability for the role.

3. Ask Thoughtful Questions: Prepare a list of insightful questions to ask the interviewer. This demonstrates your genuine interest in the position and company. Inquire about the team's dynamics, future projects, or the company's long-term goals. Avoid asking questions that can easily be answered by a quick Google search. A go-to question I recommend to candidates is “how does your company handle employee feedback?” I was once asked this question, and it initially caught me off guard (in a good way). It impressed me because it showed that the candidate was looking for a positive and collaborative work environment.  And yes, I hired her.

Interviews Should Be a Two-Way Street

Job interviews should never be a one-sided affair. As a job seeker, it's essential to understand your own preferences and priorities. Before attending an interview, consider the following questions:

Work Environment: Do you thrive in a remote setting, or do you prefer an office environment? Understanding your ideal work environment is crucial in finding the right match.

Communication: How often do you want to interact with your manager and team? Clear communication and expectations can greatly impact your job satisfaction. How do you prefer to give and receive feedback?

Company Culture: What type of culture do you thrive in? Research the company's culture and values to determine if they align with your own.

Career Growth: Where do you see yourself in the company in the long run? Knowing your career goals can help you and the recruiter identify opportunities for growth.

Interview Tips for Success

To excel in interviews and increase your chances of securing your dream job, consider the following tips:

Research the Company: Understand the company's mission, values, and recent achievements. Recruiters appreciate candidates who demonstrate a genuine interest in the organization. Some good questions to ask include: “What is your favorite company value?” and “Have you grown during your time at [COMPANY]? If so, how were you supported by your manager and/or peers?”

Prove Your Knowledge: Be ready to provide practical examples of your skills and experience with data. For example, share how much additional pipeline the sales team uncovered after a system fix or how many hours you saved each customer account manager with a process change. Showcase how you've tackled challenges and learned from mistakes.

Prepare for Canned Questions: Expect common interview questions about your failures, challenges, and problem-solving skills. Use these questions as an opportunity to showcase your resilience and determination.

References Matter: Ensure your references are willing to vouch for you. A positive reference can often outweigh any miscommunication during an interview.

Homework and Assignments: Be open to reasonable assignments or tasks provided by the company. It's a chance for both you and the employer to assess your skills and fit for the role.

Navigating Compensation Conversations: It's essential to be well-prepared when discussing compensation expectations during an interview. Doing so not only ensures that you are paid fairly for your skills and experience but also plays a pivotal role in addressing pay equity, especially for individuals from diverse backgrounds. To set realistic benchmarks, consider utilizing online resources like salary research websites, industry-specific surveys, or professional networks/communities where professionals openly share their compensation ranges. When it comes to sharing your expectations with a recruiter, it's best to wait until a later stage of the interview process when both parties have a better understanding of the role's responsibilities and your fit for the position. When the time is right, approach the conversation with professionalism and a focus on your qualifications and market research to make a compelling case for your desired compensation.

Remember, the interview process is a two-way street. It's about finding the right match for both you and the company. Don't hesitate to ask questions about the company, the job, and the team during the interview to ensure that the role aligns with your expectations.

Job interviews are a significant step in your career journey. By understanding what recruiters look for and approaching interviews as a two-way street, you can increase your chances of finding a job that aligns with your goals and values. With the right preparation and mindset, you'll be well on your way to securing your dream job, even in today's evolving job market.

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